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In the Spotlight

Published: August 14, 2009 (Issue # 1500)


On Sunday, Channel One launched its own version of the British comedy show The Kumars at 42. The original show has jokes about an Indian family, while the Russian version chose Armenians as its local amusing ethnic group. And the Armenians arent very happy.

The concept of the British show is that a would-be television star cant get a job, so he decides to film his own chat show at home. Real famous people step through his front door and are accosted by his embarrassing relatives, who are actors performing scripted and improvised jokes.

The show on Channel One is called Rubik Almighty. The ad for the show explains that Rubik is a wealthy Armenian who likes to buy and sell everything and has decided to pay for his own show on Channel One.

Amazingly, television critic Irina Petrovskaya told Ekho Moskvy that she initially thought that this was for real.

Rubik lives in a huge, tastelessly decorated house with his blonde Russian girlfriend, his middle-aged sister, his sex-mad grandfather and his geeky teenage nephew Gamlet, or Hamlet, a popular boys name in Armenia.

The Union of Armenians in Russia on Wednesday published a letter of protest to the director of Channel One, calling the Armenian family caricatured.

The show was announced as a comedy, but what we saw provoked not laughter but a natural storm of indignation among Armenian youth in Russia, the letter said.

Armenians are traditionally viewed as the funniest people in the Soviet bloc, along with Jewish people. While the idea that an Indian chat show host cant get his own show in Britain has a satirical edge, its hard to argue that theres any discrimination against Armenians on Russian television as long as theyre being funny.

Garik Martirosyan appears on current-affairs comedy show ProjectorParisHilton; Mikhail Galustyan is the co-star of the sketch show Nasha Russia; Tigran Keosayan hosts a late-night discussion show; Yevgeny Petrosyan is the long-running star of Crooked Mirror, an old-fashioned variety show; and the Comedy Club stand-up show is owned by Armenians.

The star of Rubik Almighty, Ruben Dzhaginyan, is well-known in Armenia as a former member of its KVN student comedy team and the head of a big ad agency.

The pilot show was flashy but not very funny. The guests were Dmitry Dibrov, a Channel One host whose grin occasionally slipped off his frozen face, and Anna Semenovich, a figure skater turned pop singer. She looked frightened as the jokes focused on her ample bosom.

The best jokes were about Dibrovs frequent trips to the registry office ?he recently married two girls, aged 23 and 19 and a question to vocally challenged sexpot Semenovich: Is it true that the only way to get into show business is via ice skates?

Part of the problem is that Russian television doesnt really have the celebrity chat show format that The Kumars at 42 was parodying. Reactions to the show were baffled. What on earth was it? wrote Chocolita on LiveJournal.

Armenians complained that the show was offensive to their nation.

I consider Rubik Almighty a personal insult, wrote Slishkomtiho, an Armenian blogger. Either take [Dzhaginyan] off the air or force him to speak without an accent, Juber wrote on the Channel One forum.

Rubik spoke with an exaggerated accent, which was presumably fake. All the Armenian stars on television speak Russian without any accent.

Whats more, Rubik is a collection of all the stereotypes about Armenians: He flashes the cash, likes blondes, keeps things in the family, never stops doing business and is irritatingly successful.

Although if I could pick my national stereotypes, I wouldnt mind those ones.





 


Times Talk

ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, Apr. 23


Problems facing the elderly are in the spotlight at Senior Generation 2014, an international forum at LenExpo beginning today that focuses on drawing attention to and providing information about some of societys most vulnerable members. An exhibition combined with a trade fair will help those interested be better equipped to help this demographic.



Thursday, Apr. 24


Learn more about Denmark during the Danish Business Delegations visit to SPIBA this evening starting at 5:30 p.m. at the Danish Culture Institute. Danish Consul general Klaus Sorensen will be in attendance and the buffet following a presentation on Danish companies in Russia will be the perfect opportunity to network with the assembled businessmen.


AmChams Human Resources Committee Meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. this morning in their St. Petersburg office. Check their website for more details.



Friday, Apr. 25


Light Music presents the main events for their Cultural Kitchen project at Loft-Project Etagi today. A B2B event that focuses on Finnish food, arts, travel, music and design, the evening will conclude with a dinner by chef Jyrki Tsutsunen and dancing to music by Aino Venna. The event, which began yesterday with presentations by tourism and cultural institutions, concludes today with a preview of Finlands Flow festival and other musical events. Invitations are available from www.culturalkitchen.fi.



Saturday, Apr. 26


At 6 p.m. this evening, stylist Liliana Modigliani offers 50 simple ways to up your style quotient with beauty tips at the Galeria shopping center on Ligovsky Prospekt. The event is part of the final day of the shopping malls Fashion Saturday sales event, this week focusing on top brands located on the ground floor as well as presentation from fashion experts on sprucing up your spring look.



Sunday, Apr. 27


Families shouldnt miss Childhood Planet 2014, the trade fair that started yesterday and concludes today at LenExpo. Not only will goods and services be provided for children and families but the event hopes to promote Russian brands and eco-friendly products using the latest technology available in the childcare industry.



Monday, Apr. 28


The Hotel Indigo will be the site of SPIBAs Acting Skills for HR and Other Managers master class this morning starting at 9 a.m. The event will begin with coffee before moving on to the class itself and conclude with a tour of the recently opened hotel. Confirm attendance by Apr. 24.



Tuesday, Apr. 29


Improve your English at the British Book Centers Interactive English Lesson tonight at 6 p.m. Students at pre-intermediate and intermediate levels are welcome discuss topics that are selected to help learners master the more difficult aspects of English grammar and vocabulary.